Marjorie Briggs Young of Durham, NC, died on February 18, 2022, after ten months of declining health. On April 11, 1948, she was born to Annette Briggs and Lawrence E. Young, M.D., in Rochester, NY.
Marjorie (Margie) was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University and earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, studying European culture and thought.
Margie complemented her academic understanding of European culture with a remarkable base of experiences and relationships. Speaking six languages, she traveled and lived among the people, whether in Vienna, Prague, Zagreb, Warsaw, Istanbul, or the countryside. She was with Czechoslovakia’s hopeful citizens and leaders during the “Prague Spring of 1968.” Her address book listed over a hundred Czechs whose homes were open to her. Ludvik Vaculik, author of “The Problem of Power” and “2000 Words,” remained a life-long friend.
No doubt, Margie’s relationships with the people of Europe added richness to her formal writing about European culture. She wrote in English for The Drama Review, published by MIT, and Czech for its counterpart in that nation. In 1976, Harper & Row published Margie’s book, Journeys to Glory: A Celebration of the Human Spirit, about religious pilgrimages and festivals in Poland. The prominent scholar, Mircea Eliade, called the book “thoroughly knowledgeable and enlightening, … permit[ing] the reader to enter a little-known world that is filled with genuine drama, emotion, and meaning.” More succinctly, a Polish newspaper reviewer said, “She wrote it like a native.”
Sadly, Margie never returned to eastern Europe. Mental health issues prevented that, but she remained a testament to the human spirit that had been the focus of her travels and writing. After brief periods in New York, Chicago, and Vermont, Margie settled in Durham, NC, sometimes living independently and more often in group homes, for the last 35 years.
She shared worship and fellowship with the congregations of Beth El Synagogue and Grove Park Chapel and volunteered at a children’s center. She enjoyed visiting Duke Gardens, browsing Northgate Mall, dining at the Cheesecake Factory, and spending time with friends at the Durham Center for Senior Life.
Margie continued to write, completing several autobiographical works and writing poems for special occasions with family and friends. She loved to draw and often sent handmade cards on birthdays and holidays.
When she could, Margie traveled, enjoying family gatherings and a class reunion at Stanford. Wherever she was, Margie could start a conversation with anyone, reflecting a spirit that made her younger years so remarkable.
Margie is survived by her son, Martin, siblings Beverly McCormick (David) of Galveston, TX, and Anderson Young (Mary) of Cortland, NY, and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and dear friends. She was preceded in death by her parents and sister, Carolyn Wahl (Ron) of Newark, NY.
The family would like to thank the staffs of Durham Ridge Assisted Living and Carver Living Center for their compassionate care during her last six years. Special thanks to Yonat Shimron for the steadfast love, sensitivity, and joy she brought Margie over many years. We also thank Jane Volland, whose regard for Margie always transcended her role as guardian.
A Service of Remembrance will be held 12:00 p.m. Thursday, June 2, 2022 at Pilgram Congregational Church, 533 MA-28, Harwich Port, MA 02646. A reception will follow at the church. A committal service will follow at Island Pond Cemetery, 13 Island Pond Road, Harwich, MA 02645.
If you wish, please consider a donation in memory of Margie to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI.org) or a charity of your choice.
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